NORTH TONAWANDA — Earlier this year, the North Tonawanda History Museum opened for business at its new location on Oliver Street. Earlier this month, museum staff and local officials celebrated the finishing touch on the museum's new home.
More than 200 tiles, each featuring the name of a North Tonawanda individual or organization, have been affixed to the wall on the outside of the museum, located within the old Caesar's Palace building at Oliver Street and Seventh Avenue. On July 12, a ribbon was cut to signify the installation of the final piece of the museum's display.
"The wall commemorates a lot of things," said Museum Executive Director Howard Roeske. "It goes back to the foundations of the city itself, if you really look through it. There's names of people and social organizations here, they've all contributed, they've all had an effect on this community."
Museum Trustee Audrey Monkiewicz said that the tiles have been collected as a means of raising funds for the museum and to give the community a chance to contribute to the history on display there. They've been selling the tiles since 2008, she said, but they haven't been displayed until now.
Each tile costs $100 for individuals or $250 for organizations, and orders can still be placed. Monkiewicz said there is an empty spot on the wall that is reserved for incoming tiles and added there's plenty of additional space on the wall to expand the display if necessary.
"There's four parts to the museum, now," Monkiewicz said. "There's the community room, there's the reference library, of course there's a gallery and there's (the tile display)."
The dedication of the tile wall took place about six months after the museum opened at its current location. After struggling with financial troubles that left the museum's fate up in the air for several years, the museum was forced to leave its Webster Street facility.
Mayor Art Pappas, one of several local officials who attended the dedication, commended the work of the museum's staff and volunteers for their efforts in ensuring that all the history contained in the museum's collection remained available to the public.
"It's been a labor of love," he said. "I don't think we can say enough for what these people have done and are doing to keep North Tonawanda's history alive."
The tiles were installed with the help of $5,000 from Oath Community Benefit Fund for Niagara County via the Lumber City Development Corporation, which also covered the cost of a new sign for the museum.